13'' macbook pro retina.

I want to connect two monitors that display different desktops (not the same desktop in stretch). At the moment I am using both the available thunderbolt ports (1 for a monitor and 1 for an ethernet cable). Thus at the moment I have only 1 hdmi, and 2 sub entries available to connect the additional monitor which has vga out.

How can you recommend setting up this dual monitor setup?


Connect the display and deactivate mirroring in system preferences. To connect the display user any of your free ports (HDMI or Thunderbolt) with an adapter do VGA. If your first screen has Thunderbolt, you can daisy-chain an adapter through the display.

  • Thanks. Would I lose video quality by using a vga to hdmi adapter compared to vga to thunderbolt? I could liberate a thunderbolt port on my mac by changing my ethernet cable to go to a usb instead of to a thunderbolt. Which solution would be best?
    – jensjorda
    May 1 '15 at 9:21
  • Video quality will be the same since VGA is the weakest link in this case May 1 '15 at 10:13
  • Does neither of the monitors have a HDMI port? That would save you an adapter. May 1 '15 at 12:57
  • No unfortunately not. Both have vga output only..
    – jensjorda
    May 1 '15 at 13:10

If I understand your configuration, you have:

a. macbook, plus two external displays

b. two thunderbolt ports, one for ethernet, one for display

c. one hdmi port for the other display

For the VGA display, you need a Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter.

And the HDMI display can be simply hooked to the HDMI port.

Now, to display different desktops:

  1. Go System Preferences >> Mission Control
  2. Tick the Displays have separate Spaces
  3. Set the other checkboxes according to how you prefer to work.
  4. After step (2), you will be able to set different desktop backgrounds (for each display; the background will be reused when you add Spaces to a given display).
  • Thanks! So both my monitors have vga. The monitor I already use is connected through a vga to thunderbolt. For the "new" monitor, is it a viable option to connect to it by a vga to hdmi converter?
    – jensjorda
    Apr 30 '15 at 20:43
  • I haven't tried that, but there are vga-to-hdmi converters available: ( newegg.ca/Product/… )
    – Vzzdak
    Apr 30 '15 at 21:07

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